BETTY ANN BOWSER: After a two-month investigation into sexual assaults at the Academy, Air Force Secretary James Roche and chief of staff General John Jumper announced major personnel changes and a ten-page list of reforms.
JAMES ROCHE: We're doing what a company would do. We want to have a change. We want to have people think differently. We want to have our selected people because we're ultimately responsible to the president and the secretary of defense, the Congress and the American people for the school. We want our team in there. We want to make a change and make a change quickly.
GENERAL JOHN JUMPER: The basics of what we're about to do have to do with a return to character at the United States Air Force Academy. Our pledge that we'll graduate cadets and officers from the air force academy that are imbued with the fundamental principles of character, honor and integrity is our charter and our firm intention to return to that.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: Roche said the air force will remove the academy's two top generals and three other top officers in the command structure. Roche also said any female cadet who reports a rape will be given blanket amnesty, meaning they can't be punished for breaking other academy rules at the time of the assault. In the past, many female cadets who reported they were raped were then punished for lesser offenses.
The sweeping changes came after dozens of current and former cadets said they were sexually assaulted. One of those who came forward was this young woman, who wants to be known as Liz. She was raped five times by an upperclassman who was in charge of her training. After pressing her case for months, Liz felt forced to resign last year. That brought her lifelong dream to an abrupt end.
LIZ, FORMER CADET: That place was the top of the top for me. You know, that was where I always wanted to go. That to me was how I was going to fly, what I wanted, to be in the military that I respected the most, and now I'm left without a degree, without a career, without a goal.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: When Liz first reported the rapes, she went through the Academy's chain of command. But instead of prosecuting the perpetrator, Liz was cited with serious disciplinary infractions by academy officials, including fraternizing with an upper classman and having sex in the dorm. Two months ago, Liz decided to seek help from Colorado Senator Wayne Allard. Since then, his office has been inundated with similar complaints.
SEN. WAYNE ALLARD: Thirty-nine now; thirteen of them are from within the Academy, twenty-five have left the Academy, either graduated or been drummed out, and then there's one civilian. The large number that we're seeing to my office right now is from individuals who simply have not had any confidence in reporting it to the Academy because they felt like it put their careers at risk and it wasn't going to be processed properly.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: The large number of rapes first came to public attention when Denver's ABC station, KMGH, broadcast the results of a three-month investigation.
CORRESPONDENT: Behind the facade of spit, polish and sharp creases is a culture that many women found to be accepting of rape and sexual assault.
YOUNG WOMAN: If the administration doesn't kick you out, the rest of the cadets will. So don't report it.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: When Roche and Jumper first heard the reports, they said they were shocked and within days went to Colorado Springs to put the entire air wing on notice.
JAMES ROCHE: The conduct of some of our cadet population, albeit quite small, is not only morally reprehensible, it is at times criminal. Even if there is one cadet engaged in this illegal conduct, that is one too many. And that cadet must go.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: The speech shook the entire campus. Captain Jeff Shores and Sergeant Karen Donels, who help train the cadets, said they had no idea this was going on.
SGT. KAREN DONELS: I was very shocked and actually very…almost emotional that this had occurred here at the Academy.
CAPTAIN JEFF SHORES: I don't think anyone had any idea that it was as serious an issue as the media and the senior leadership of the Air Force brought that message to us. So cadets that were very proud of being at the Academy and what they were doing were all of a sudden thinking that people were viewing them as not doing their job.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: Roche and Jumper now say they are aware of at least 56 cases of rape or sexual assault involving Academy cadets over the last ten years. And they say how they learned about some of the incidents was painful.
JAMES ROCHE: What grabbed both of us and hurt is the number of women officers who, seeing us involved and that we know professionally have come forward to say, "look, I've never said anything in the past, but you need to know," which means this goes way back.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: "That this happened to me"?
JAMES ROCHE: "Something happened to me," yes. We start to recognize it's the women who decide "I'm not going to say anything" that frightens us most.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: Two teams of investigators were dispatched to the academy, and it is their work that led to today's recommendations. Another reform General Jumper says will take place is more counseling for the Academy's women who make up 18 percent of the cadet wing.
GEN. JOHN JUMPER: It will be clear to any potential victim when they come forward that they will have a set of people that will advocate for their position within the system and make sure that they understand that their allegations will be taken seriously by the chain of command can do something about it, and if appropriate and when appropriate, enter into a criminal process.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: Roche says the next freshman class will also see new written rules that clearly explain what rape is.
JAMES ROCHE: One of the things we haven't done is we clearly haven't educated them correctly on definitions. We've used the term "sexual assault" to encompass everything from an unwanted kiss all the way to rape. So we've clearly made a mistake at the Academy in terms of defining things.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: Liz says she applauds the removal of the leadership at the Academy and many of the other reforms, but she says she is skeptical that they will be fully implemented.
LIZ: What I think is that they're trying to appease the public at this point. I really feel like as soon as the public says, "Oh, okay, they're looking like they're going to deal with it," and the pressure releases, that they're going to drop the whole thing and say, "Well, we dealt with it," when they didn't really.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: One of the biggest changes announced today is symbolic-- these tall metal letters on the Academy grounds, will come down. They say "Bring me men."